We are home from Australia and the question I’m getting is, “Are you really going to move?” as if we were going to get there and realize we were way off track and God isn’t really calling us to plant this church. We would wake up 8500 miles away and say, “What are we thinking? We can’t do this!”
Well, that did not happen! As a matter of fact, our faith was built for what is ahead of us and we are more excited than ever about this journey. In some ways, it was hard to come home because there is so much work to do. Some days, I’m overwhelmed at my to-do list. Other days, all I can think about is that I’m not spiritually ready for such a huge undertaking. That my faith isn’t strong enough and that I must read the Bible through 20 more times before I could ever call myself a pastor or lead anything!
I’m reminded of a passage of scripture in James chapter 2 that addresses this very thing: faith and works. It’s like the old song “Love and Marriage-” you can’t have one without the other! The Bible explains that we show our faith in God through our actions. The first steps of church planting are not very spiritual in nature. Getting an ABN (Australian business number), credentialing Greg as a pastor there, opening bank accounts, and setting up a website. None of which takes great faith. They’re just works. Boring, sometimes stressful, and confusing! But it’s faith in God and what He is calling us to do that is causing us to do this work in the first place. Abraham was called a friend of God because of being justified in his works by offering his son Isaac on the altar. Faith was working with his works and as a result, he was perfected (James 2:21, 22).
The Message translation of this passage says that works and faith fit together hand and glove. We can’t profess to trust in God and then sit back and proclaim that we have accomplished something great on our own, by our works. Don’t get this whole thing confused with thinking you have to WORK to gain God’s favor and approval (you already have this through the blood of Jesus). I’m just explaining that faith expresses itself in works.
Selling our house and cars and half of our belongings takes faith and a lot of work. Moving to a new city with no one in our church, no real plan for income, and no guarantee that we will be successful takes great faith. But we can’t just sit around and pray all day and expect things to magically move us in that direction. We gotta get to work! James says that a person is made right with God by faith fruitful in works. We cannot separate faith from works in any area of our lives.
If you are praying and believing for a new job, I hope you are applying and putting together a great resume. If you have a bad marriage and have faith that God can restore it, you better be going out of your way to show your spouse love and respect. If your finances are in shambles, don’t just pray for a miracle. Pray for one while tithing and working on a serious budget!
The faith for Greg and I came in trusting God that He was calling us to plant a church. Now that we have this assurance, we have to get to work. We know God has called us to start Lift Church in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. It’s not our talent that will make this come together. It’s the power of God in us that will allow doors to open and miracles to unfold. God will work in our work! God’s desire is that everyone know His name. He wants a relationship with people in our city who are far from Him. He wants us to be the carriers of His message to bring hope to a lost and dying world. It’s the Holy Spirit who not only directs our path, but allows people to come to know Christ. We have to complete our LONG to-do list while praying and believing God is going to direct our path and guide our every step. This is building our faith. Faith fruitful in works.